Given the current damage wreaked by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, the approach of Hurricane Irma from the Atlantic Ocean, and the peak hurricane season, it occurred to my friend Rachel that a blog post on this topic might be timely and helpful for others in creating their storm prep plans.
But first, my Hurricane Sandy story:
My house was located in Highlands, New Jersey, a tiny shore town in Monmouth County not far from where the Lower New York Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Here is another picture. I know it’s so small you can’t read it, but the actual ocean is on the right, then there’s this spit of land called “Sandy Hook,” then a little bay, and then Highlands. My house is the hot pink dot.
So Hurricane Sandy hits as a tropical storm, not even a category 1. Carolinians know we don’t even bat an eye at a category 1 storm. Carolinians don’t even throw a Hurricane Party (bathtub stocked with beer, all your friends over to sit around in the dark and listen to the shingles fly off the roof) for anything less than a category 2 storm. So a tropical storm is like, “Meh.” 🤷🏼♀️
Atlantic Ocean, you jerk! What are you doing?? But it’s too late. And my street, which does not even sit at the ocean, but is a full two blocks back from the bay, is underneath 13 feet of water.
New Jersey never gets hurricanes, so we had all been evacuated by this point. Thankfully, my husband and I and our dog (our only child), had driven both our cars to his mom’s house in central NJ to ride out the storm.
While we were gone, the water kept rising in our town. Here is a quiet little restaurant I could walk to from my house called the Inlet Cafe (painted blue) that we used to like to go to.
Here it is again, (it had been repainted yellow), while it is getting hit by Hurricane Sandy:
I was glad we had evacuated. Several of my neighbors stayed, and they called me as the water rose higher and higher in their houses and they kept retreating to their 2nd and 3rd floors to stay dry. My street right after the storm:
Look at the guy with the oars in the boat, haha! He isn’t helping at all!
The problem with this unexpected flooding was that none of us were prepared for it, even those of us who left. So I had left behind at home all of my important documents; homeowners insurance paperwork, flood insurance paperwork, our marriage certificate, our passports, our mortgage loan paperwork; etc. I had also not thought to pack any more than a few nights worth of clothing.
When we were allowed home, it was two weeks later, and our street looked like a war zone. There was sand and mud everywhere. The Red Cross was there, the military was there… you had to show a man with a machine gun your ID with a local address before they’d even let you into town. On our street, a dump truck was picking up boats and simply dropping them in dumpsters. The damage was too extensive and the scene too chaotic to even address whose boat was whose.
The inside of our house was filthy and smelled terrible. It was as if everything inside had been spun around in a giant washing machine.
Our papers were nowhere to be found. I think my filing cabinet had floated out of the house. The house had shifted off its foundation. Nothing could be saved- clothes, dishes, furniture, artwork- everything had to be thrown out. It smelled horrible, and the authorities advised us to get rid of everything because they “did not know what was in the water.” This is what everyone’s house looked like on my street- all the contents of our homes in trash bags awaiting pickup at the ends of our driveways.